Arkansas woman's sister becomes Alzheimer's caregiver

Patty Bridges and her middle sister Jean. Patty has become her sister's Alzheimer's caregiver. (Photo: KATV)

Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

More than 16 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer's or other dementia. Among them is Patty Bridges, the youngest of five siblings and the caregiver for her middle sister, Jean.

Several years ago, Jean was diagnosed with vascular dementia, which became advanced Alzheimer's within two years.

"It became really emotional for me when things started getting real for me, when things started forgetting, simple things, or she'd get angry on the phone with me for no reason at all," Bridges said.

Bridges said she and her sister used to talk on the phone for hours.

"That's probably what I miss the most," she said. "We don't get to talk. I talk and she 'yeses' and 'nos' but I talk for her. I talk to the doctors. I am the advocate for her and I fight for her and she doesn't know who I am but she knows I'm somebody very special."

Jean receives treatment at the UAMS Hot Springs Oaklawn Center on Aging. The center suggests that caregivers educate themselves about the type of dementia they're dealing with, as well as types of care. The center also recommends joining a support group. The center said those resources can help with important things, such as learning to communicate with someone who has Alzheimer's.

Another resource is the Broyles Foundation. Click here for more information from the foundation.

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